No one would accuse of Bob Odenkirk of being a slacker, but his feature-film directing career has never quite taken off. His projects include TV series, comedy specials, short films, and the odd music video, but movie success eludes him — even when he’s directing longtime pals like Will Arnett, Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, and Jenna Fischer. Of his three films, only his debut, festival hit “Melvin Goes to Dinner,” earned mostly positive reviews, and none were box-office hits.
And while he’d like another shot (“I look forward to doing it one day”), Odenkirk puts any blame for failure squarely on himself.
“I think my experiences were pretty rough, and one of the reasons was I didn’t really fully embrace the stories I was telling,” he said. “I sort of learned that that’s your first job as director, to love every aspect of the story and really, really wanna tell it. And I haven’t found that story yet.”
He’s got plenty of kudos, including two Emmys for his writing on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Ben Stiller Show,” created ’90scult-classic series “Mr. Show With Bob and David” with David Cross, and became a star with his work on “Breaking Bad” and its spinoff series, “Better Call Saul.” With that show recently wrapping its fourth season, Odenkirk suggested he might find the time to dig into those kinds of stories.
“There’s a few things I’m tinkering with that maybe will feel that way to me, but the mistake I made was treating it as a craft and not an art,” he said. “I think I had my experience with it and I enjoyed it enough to want to do it again, but I don’t think I’ll do it again until I have that gut feeling that this is the story I really wanna tell.”
The multi-hyphenate is also not hung up on the line between theatrical releases and streaming originals. Last year, his “Girlfriend’s Day” debuted on Netflix, an original comedic noir that Odenkirk wrote, produced, and starred in. While he initially hoped to direct the film, which he had been working on for over 15 years, he ultimately turned over those duties to Michael Stephenson. That was another lesson he had to learn.
“I didn’t direct it because I was the lead,” he said. “That’s the other thing, I don’t know if I’d direct something that I’m the lead in. Maybe I would, but it’s hard to direct. You gotta respect the effort there. “
Odenkirk has nothing but positive words for Netflix and its chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who Odenkirk said read the film’s script almost a decade ago and “loved” it. It’s the kind of weird stuff he wants to make, the kind that might not appeal to everyone but that makes Odenkirk happy. The stuff that gives him that “gut feeling.”
“I just love that little movie and I don’t care if you get it or don’t. If you get it, I love you, and we’re on the same page,” Odenkirk said. “If you don’t get it, carry on. Move on to the next thing. But man, I love that little movie still, and I always will.”